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February 1, 2017

USM gets green light to complete Portland master plan

Courtesy / University of Southern Maine
Courtesy / University of Southern Maine
An artist's rendering shows a conceptual layout of the University of Southern Maine's Portland campus as it might look under a preliminary master plan vision that's now going to be analyzed by Harriman, an Auburn-based architecture, engineering and planning firm.

The University of Maine System Board of Trustees has given the go-ahead to the University of Southern Maine to complete a master plan that could dramatically change the layout of its Portland campus.

The Jan. 30 action moves forward the vision for the Portland campus sketched out by USM President Glenn Cummings at the Portland Community Chamber of Commerce's monthly "Eggs and Issues" forum last October that included closing down Bedford Street, which currently bisects the campus, and remaking the parking lot outside the Woodbury Campus Center as a lawn-covered quad.

Other modernizations to the campus that will be explored more fully in the master plan include a new dormitory and a bigger, brighter student center.

Auburn-based Harriman — which worked on USM's Glickman Library, Wishcamper Center and John Mitchell Center — is working on the long-range planning, which will include upgrades to all three campuses in Portland, Gorham and Lewiston.

Initial artist renderings for the reconfiguration of the Portland campus show a green hub of activity surrounded by modern buildings.

"It's really about developing that sense of campus in Portland," Cummings said in a release announcing the trustee's action. "The investment would cultivate retention by bringing affordable, residential student life here in one of the best small cities in the country."

Clifton Greim, Harriman's CEO and a member of the USM Board of Visitors, said the master plan will be guided by a detailed analysis of the existing Portland campus.

"We collect data first," said Greim. "We'll take a look at the facilities, at the usable square footage and how it's being utilized. We'll also take a look at the campus energy profile."

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